Guide to Puppy Vaccinations: What You Need to Know


Everything you need to know about vaccinating your puppy.

It’s important to keep your puppy up-to-date on its vaccinations. Not only does it help protect them from disease, but it also helps create a healthier environment for other dogs and people. Here is a guide to what you need to know about vaccinating your puppy.

Different types of vaccinations puppies need:

  • Bordetella
  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Hepatitis
  • Canine Parainfluenza
  • Heartworm
  • Kennel Cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies

Beginners Guide to Puppy Vaccinations graphic

Guide to Puppy Vaccinations: What You Need to Know

Why Puppy Vaccinations Are Important

When it comes to puppy vaccinations, the old cliché “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” really holds true.

Vaccinations are an incredibly important part of canine healthcare – being vaccinated helps to protect puppies from dangerous infectious diseases that can be deadly.

It also ensures that any other animals they come into contact with are not exposed to potentially contagious diseases. Vaccinating your pup regularly, as recommended by your vet, not only protects their own health but also provides peace of mind, knowing that your beloved pup isn’t at risk from preventable diseases.

Vaccinations Puppies Need

Ensuring your new pup stays healthy means taking the right measures when it comes to vaccinations.

As a responsible pet parent, you must make sure your puppy receives Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parainfluenza, Corona Virus, Heartworm, Kennel Cough, Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease, Parvovirus, and Rabies vaccines as needed – this way you can ensure that your pooch remains happy and healthy for years to come!

Depending on where you live, and the age of your puppy will determine how many vaccines they need at what frequency – so it’s important to talk with a qualified veterinarian about the best vaccination plan for you and your pet.

Beginners Guide to Puppy Vaccinations

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This highly communicable bacterium causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare cases, seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough. There are injectable and nasal spray vaccines available.

Canine Distemper

A serious and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals, distemper spreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal.

The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, often, death. This disease used to be known as “hardpad” because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden.

There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections and control vomiting symptoms and seizures. If the animal survives the symptoms, it is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months.

Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the affected dog’s liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. This liver disease is caused by a virus unrelated to the human form of hepatitis.

Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill. There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.

Corona Virus

This virus usually affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Doctors can keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable and help alleviate nausea, but no drug kills coronaviruses.


When your puppy is around 12-to-16 weeks, talk to your vet about starting her on a heartworm preventative. There is no vaccine for this condition, but it is preventable with regular medication. The name is descriptive; these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs), though they can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys.

The worms can grow to 14 inches long (ick!) and, if clumped together, block and injure organs. A new infection often causes no symptoms, though dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite, or have difficulty breathing. In addition, infected dogs may tire after mild exercise.

Unlike most diseases listed here, which are passed by urine, feces, and other body fluids, mosquitoes transmit heartworms. Therefore, diagnosis is made via a blood test, not a fecal exam. The FDA has more information about heartworm.

Kennel Cough

Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough results from inflammation of the upper airways. It can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, and often involves multiple conditions simultaneously.

Usually, the disease is mild, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing; sometimes, it is severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can be deadly.

It is easily spread between dogs kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels. Antibiotics are usually not necessary doe Kennel Cough, except in severe, chronic cases. Cough suppressants can make a dog more comfortable.

german shepherd puppy

When Should Puppies Start Getting Vaccinated?

Puppies should get vaccinated soon to keep them healthy and safe. Vaccines protect from many diseases that can be serious or even life-threatening in young puppies.

Veterinarians typically recommend a series of vaccinations beginning when the puppy is 6 weeks old and then again every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old, or older if needed.

After this initial series of vaccines, regular boosters are usually required every year or two, depending on the vaccine type. Keeping your pup protected with regular vaccinations will help give them a lifetime of good health and well-being!

Side Effects of  Puppy Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a great way to protect your dog’s health and prevent illnesses. However, like any medical procedure, they can also cause some side effects.

Common ones include mild pain or tenderness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, slight fatigue or headache, muscle aches, and feeling out of sorts for a few days. Rarely, more serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction or seizure, may occur.

If your dog experiences more than the usually mild symptoms following vaccination, it’s important to speak with your vet immediately. That way, you can get any additional treatment if needed.


Vaccinating your puppy is an important step to keeping them healthy and happy. Vaccinations work by introducing a form of the virus into the body; most of the time, it will be dead or very weak, so it won’t make your pup sick.

When they come into contact with the real virus, their bodies have already created a defense that can fight it off. Vaccines protect against common illnesses like rabies and distemper and newer ones like coronavirus.

By vaccinating your puppy twice a year, you’re giving them the best chance to stay healthy and live a full life. Plus, it’s nice knowing that if you ever need to board him overnight or take him to play in dog parks, he’s well-protected from any potential illnesses out there.

So next time your pup gets due for his vaccinations, make sure not to skip it – the long-term health of your pup depends on it!


Q: What is the best way to prevent my dog from getting sick?

A: Vaccinating your dog is the best way to protect them against common and serious illnesses. You should have your puppy vaccinated as soon as possible, and then get regular boosters every year or two. Additionally, you can help prevent disease by keeping their living area clean and avoiding contact with other dogs who may be ill.

Q: What should I do if my dog experiences side effects from a vaccine?

A: Call your vet immediately if your dog experiences any severe symptoms, such as an allergic reaction or seizure. Milder symptoms like pain at the injection site, fatigue, and muscle aches may be normal and should improve within a few days.

Q: How often should I vaccinate my dog?

A: Puppies should get vaccinated as soon as possible and then again every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old or older if needed. After that, regular boosters are usually required every year or two, depending on the vaccine type. Talk to your vet about what’s best for your pup.

Q: What diseases do vaccines protect against?

A: Vaccines protect against common illnesses like rabies and distemper and newer ones like coronavirus. Ask your vet which vaccines are recommended for your dog and make sure to keep them up to date.

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